XC : Young runners have chance to prove themselves for SU

first_img Comments Only 13 of Syracuse’s 51 runners took part in the Harry Lang Invitational on Sept. 3 in Hamilton, N.Y., last weekend. And they weren’t the Orange’s top 13 harriers.Instead, SU head coach Chris Fox chose younger runners to participate in the season-opening meet last weekend. Specifically, those who are trying to show how valuable they can be to the team.‘It was kind of just a low-key meet for us,’ redshirt freshman Jon Squeri said. ‘Last weekend it was just me and a bunch of guys who are trying to go out and prove ourselves.’And they did so successfully, winning the Harry Lang Invitational easily after securing six of the top seven times on the men’s side. Fox said the importance of attending these early-season meets is to develop the younger runners. It gives them a chance to gain experience before the intensity of the bigger meets arrives. SU’s women’s team placed first as well.Squeri was one runner who seized the moment. He was the top performer for the men’s team with a time of 20:54 in the 6K, finishing second overall.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut despite the success, not every young runner thought they would even have a chance to compete so early in the season.‘I didn’t really expect to contribute to the team this early on because I struggled a lot last year, so I didn’t really know what to expect,’ said sophomore Alexandra Clinton, who placed third in the women’s 4,200-meter race.For now, guidance comes from the older, more experienced runners. Their words of encouragement give the newer runners high hopes of continuing to perform well throughout the remainder of the season.Working hard to prove themselves in the first few meets is a clear goal. And as they do so, the younger players build leadership skills while the veterans look on. Developing less-experienced teammates is another work in progress.‘I look to all the older girls that have been in the bigger races and have experienced all that,’ Clinton said. ‘I don’t think they realize they give me advice, but seeing how much they have achieved gives me motivation to work harder.’Encouraging teammates during races to push themselves is just one of the ways that Squeri embodies leadership. Fox said he asked the team to run together for half the race at the Harry Lang Invitational.Squeri described the team’s decision to run in a pack as a bundle of sticks. And a bundle is ‘unbreakable,’ whereas a solo runner is ‘easier to break.’In that bundle, the runners pushed each other and ran neck and neck right down to the finish, where they secured their second through seventh placements on the men’s side.‘We asked them to run together for about half the race, and they did,’ Fox said. ‘Then they kind of went and did their own thing.’The younger runners have one more tune-up meet before the ‘real’ season begins Sept. 30 at the Paul Short Invitational in Bethlehem, Pa. Next weekend, the team travels back to Hamilton, N.Y., for the Colgate Invitational, which is the last proving ground.Fox said that after last week’s impressive performance, some of the less experienced runners might be contributing to the team when it comes time to larger meets like the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational and Pre-Nationals in Indiana.‘We may run a good bit of our kids in two weeks at another kind of low-key meet at Colgate, but the real season begins the last week in September,’ Fox said.Squeri and Clinton both hope to be a part of the travel team and run at those bigger meets. Squeri said only the top 14 runners go to the meet in Wisconsin, and Clinton said one of her goals is to benefit the team this year.They recognize that ‘everyone can start,’ as Squeri put it. But it’s the runners that can gut out a race and finish strong that are most valuable to the team.These early-season meets are a chance for younger runners to show what they’re worth, with a bigger goal in mind.‘Everyone can start, but it’s really how you finish and where you finish that’s important,’ Squeri said. ‘I want to improve on finishing better. I want to make sure I finish with these guys and help push them.’[email protected] Published on September 7, 2011 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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